Saturday, December 6, 2008

Senator John McCain's brother on The Jews & Israel.

 

There is a lot of worry popping up in the media just now -- "Can Israel

Survive?" Don't worry about it. It relates to something that Palestinians,

the Arabs, and perhaps most Americans don't realize -- the Jews are never

going quietly again. Never. And if the world doesn't come to understand

that, then millions of Arabs are going to die. It's as simple as that.

 

Throughout the history of the world, the most abused, kicked-around race of

people have been the Jews. Not just during the holocaust of World War II,

but for thousands of years. They have truly been "The Chosen People" in a

terrible and tragic sense.

 

The Bible story of Egypt's enslavement of the Jews is not just a story, it

is history, if festooned with theological legend and heroic epics. In 70

A.D. the Romans, which had for a long time tolerated the Jews -- even

admired them as 'superior' to other vassals -- tired of their truculent

demands for independence and decided on an early "Solution" to the Jewish

problem. Jerusalem was sacked and reduced to near rubble, Jewish resistance

was pursued and crushed by the implacable Roman War Machine -- see 'Masada'.

And thus began The Diaspora, the dispersal of Jews throughout the rest of

the world.

 

Their homeland destroyed, their culture crushed, they looked desperately for

the few niches in a hostile world where they could be safe. That safety was

fragile, and often subject to the whims of moody hosts. The words 'pogrom',

'ghetto', and 'anti-Semitism' come from this treatment of the first

mono-theistic people. Throughout Europe, changing times meant sometimes

tolerance, sometimes even warmth for the Jews, but eventually it meant

hostility, then malevolence. There is not a country in Europe or Western

Asia that at one time or another has not decided to lash out against the

children of Moses, sometimes by whim, sometimes by manipulation.

 

Winston Churchill calls Edward I one of England's very greatest kings. It

was under his rule in the late 1200's that Wales and Cornwall were hammered

into the British crown, and Scotland and Ireland were invaded and occupied.

He was also the first European monarch to set up a really effective

administrative bureaucracy, surveyed and censused his kingdom, established

laws and political divisions. But he also embraced the Jews.

 

Actually Edward didn't embrace Jews so much as he embraced their money. For

the English Jews had acquired wealth -- understandable, because this people

that could not own land or office, could not join most of the trades and

professions, soon found out that money was a very good thing to accumulate.

Much harder to take away than land or a store, was a hidden sock of gold and

silver coins. Ever resourceful, Edward found a way -- he borrowed money from

the Jews to finance imperial ambitions in Europe, especially France. The

loans were almost certainly not made gladly, but how do you refuse your

King? Especially when he is 'Edward the Hammer'. Then, rather than pay back

the debt, Edward simply expelled the Jews. Edward was especially

inventive -- he did this twice. After a time, he invited the Jews back to

their English homeland, borrowed more money, then expelled them again.

 

Most people do not know that Spain was one of the early entrants into The

Renaissance. People from all over the world came to Spain in the late

medieval period. All were welcome -- Arabs, Jews, other Europeans. The

University of Salamanca was one of the great centers of learning in the

world -- scholars of all nations, all fields came to Salamanca to share

their knowledge and their ideas. But in 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella, having

driven the last of Moors from the Spanish Shield, were persuaded by the

righteous fundamentalists of the time to announce "The Act of Purification".

A series of steps were taken in which all Jews and Arabs and other

non-Christians were expelled from the country, or would face the tools and

the torches of The Inquisition. From this 'cleansing' come the Sephardic

Jews -- as opposed to the Ashkenazis of Eastern Europe. In Eastern Europe,

the sporadic violence and brutality against Jews are common knowledge.

'Fiddler' without the music and the folksy humor. At times of fury, no

accommodation by the Jew was good enough, no profile low enough, no village

poor enough or distant enough.

 

From these come the near-steady flow of Jews to the United States. And

despite the disdain of the Jews by most 'American' Americans, they came to

grab the American Dream with both hands, and contributed everything from new

ideas of enterprise in retail and entertainment to becoming some of our

finest physicians and lawyers. The modern United States, in spite of itself,

IS The United States in part because of its Jewish blood.

 

Then the Nazi Holocaust -- the corralling, sorting, orderly eradication of

millions of the people of Moses. Not something that other realms in other

times didn't try to do, by the way, the Germans were just more organized and

had better murder technology.

 

I stood in the center of Dachau for an entire day, about 15 years ago,

trying to comprehend how this could have happened. I had gone there on a

side trip from Munich, vaguely curious about this Dachau. I soon became

engulfed in the enormity of what had occurred there nestled in this middle

and working class neighborhood.

 

How could human beings do this to other human beings, hear their cries,

their pleas, their terror, their pain, and continue without apparently even

wincing? I no longer wonder. At some times, some places, ANY sect of the

human race is capable of horrors against their fellow man, whether a member

of the Waffen SS, a Serbian sniper, a Turkish policeman in 1920's Armenia, a

Mississippi Klansman. Because even in the United States not all was a Rose

Garden. For a long time Jews had quotas in our universities and graduate

schools. Only so many Jews could be in a medical or law school at one time.

Jews were disparaged widely. I remember as a kid Jewish jokes told without a wince - "Why do Jews have such big noses?"

 

Well, now the Jews have a homeland again. A place that is theirs. And that's

the point. It doesn't matter how many times the United States and European

powers try to rein in Israel, if it comes down to survival of its nation,

its people, they will fight like no lioness has ever fought to save her

cubs. They will fight with a ferocity, a determination, and a skill, that

will astound us.

 

And many will die, mostly their attackers, I believe. If there were a

macabre historical betting parlor, my money would be on the Israelis to be

standing at the end. As we killed the kamikazes and the Wehrmacht soldaten

of World War II, so will the Israelis kill their suicidal attackers, until

there are not enough to torment them.

 

The irony goes unnoticed -- while we are hammering away to punish those who

brought the horrors of last September here, we restrain the Israelis from

the same retaliation. Not the same thing, of course -- We are We, They are

They. While we mourn and seethe at September 11th, we don't notice that

Israel has a September 11th sometimes every day.

 

We may not notice, but it doesn't make any difference. And it doesn't make

any difference whether you are pro-Israeli or you think Israel is the bully

of the Middle East. If it comes to where a new holocaust looms -- with or

without the concurrence of the United States and Europe -- Israel will lash

out without pause or restraint at those who would try to annihilate their

country.

 

The Jews will not go quietly again.

 

Joe McCain

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

The Rabbi and the Terrorist.

By Dennis Prager,

FrontPageMagazine.com

 

It was obvious to observers around the world that one of the designated targets of the Pakistani Islamist terrorists was the Mumbai Chabad House, the one Jewish center in Mumbai. The 10 Islamic terrorists who came from Pakistan to India chose their targets with great care.
If one assumes that the terrorists' primary goals were to destabilize India, weaken growing Indian-Pakistani cooperation in fighting terrorism, and greatly increase Indian-Pakistani tension, hopefully to the point of military war between the two countries, every one of the targets made strategic sense. Slaughtering as many people as possible in India's major economic center, including as many foreign tourists as possible at Mumbai's finest hotels, also made sense.
But one target seemed to make little sense. In fact, until the attack was over people were uncertain whether the terrorists' attack on the Jewish center known as the Chabad House was part of the original plan or chosen spontaneously. Only when the lone terrorist who was captured told his interrogators that the Chabad House was planned a year earlier was it indisputable that killing the Rabbi, his wife, their children and any other Jews present was part of the plan.

The question is why?

Why would a terrorist group of Islamists from Pakistan whose primary goal is to have Pakistan gain control of the third of Kashmir that belongs to India and therefore aimed to destabilize India's major city devote so much of its efforts -- 20 percent of its force of 10 gunmen whose stated goal was to kill 5,000 -- to killing a rabbi and any Jews with him?
The question echoes one from World War II: Why did Hitler devote so much time, money, and manpower in order to murder every Jewish man, woman, and child in every country the Nazis occupied? Why did Hitler -- as documented by the late historian Lucy Dawidowicz in her aptly named book "The War against the Jews" -- weaken the Nazi war effort by diverting money, troops, and military vehicles from fighting the Allies to rounding up Jews and shipping them to death camps?
From the perspective of political scientists, historians, and contemporary journalists, the answer to these questions is not rational. But the non-rationality of an answer is not synonymous with its non-validity.
For the Islamists, as for the Nazis, the destruction of the Jews -- and since 1948, the Jewish state -- is central to their worldview.
If anyone has a better explanation for why Pakistani terrorists, preoccupied with destabilizing India, would expend so much effort at finding the one Jewish center in a country that is essentially devoid of Jews, I would like to hear it.
With all the Pakistani Islamists' hatred of Hindus, they did not attack one Hindu temple in India's major city.
With all their hatred of Christian infidels, the terrorists did not seek out one of the 700,000 Christians in Mumbai.

To reinforce my point, imagine a Basque separatist terrorist organization attacking Madrid. Would the terrorists take time out to murder all those in the Madrid Chabad House? The idea is ludicrous. But no one seems to find it odd that that Pakistani Muslim terrorists who hate India and want it to give up control of Indian Kashmir would send two of its 10 terrorists to kill perhaps the only rabbi in Mumbai. As Newsweek reported during the siege, "Given that Orthodox Jews were being held at gunpoint by mujahideen (sic), it seemed unlikely there would be survivors." Newsweek, like just about everyone else, simply assumes Islamists will murder Jews whenever and wherever possible.

They are right.
For years I have warned that great evils often begin with the murder of Jews, and therefore non-Jews who dismiss Jew-hatred (aka anti-Semitism, aka anti-Zionism), will learn too late that Jew- and Israel-haters only begin with Jews but never end with them. When Israeli Jews were almost the only targets of Muslim terrorists, the world dismissed it as a Jewish or Israeli problem. Then it became an American and European and Filipino and Thai and Indonesian and Hindu problem.

Two final points:
One is that it is exquisitely fitting that the same week the murders in Mumbai were taking place, the United Nations General Assembly passed six more anti-Israel resolutions. As it has for decades, the U.N. has again sanctioned hatred for a good and decent country as small on the map of the world as the Chabad House is on the map of Mumbai.
Two: Statements from Chabad in reaction to the torture-murders of a 28-year-old Chabad rabbi and his wife called on humanity to react to this evil "with random acts of kindness." Evil hates goodness. That's why the terrorists targeted a Chabad Rabbi and his wife.

 

Dennis Prager,

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Mumbai atrocity is a wake-up call for a frighteningly unprepared world.

By Melanie Phillips

 

Western commentators still don't grasp what the free world is facing. This was not merely a distant horror


Around the world, people have reacted with horror to the vile atrocities in Mumbai.

For three days, our TV screens transmitted images of carnage and chaos as the toll of murder victims climbed to upwards of 190 people, with many hundreds more injured.

Despite the fact that Western citizens were caught up in the attacks, there is nevertheless a sense that this was nothing to do with us — a horrible event happening in a faraway place.

Among commentators, moreover, there has been no small amount of confusion.

Were these terrorists motivated by the grievance between Muslims and Hindus over Kashmir, or was this a broader attack by Al Qaeda?

If British and American tourists were singled out over Iraq — which many assume is the motive for such attacks — why were Indians targeted in the Victoria railway station?

And why was an obscure outreach centre geared to Jews marked for slaughter?

Such perceptions and questions suggest that, even now, Western commentators still don't grasp what the free world is facing. This was not merely a distant horror.

We should pay the closest possible attention to what happened in Mumbai because something on this scale could well happen here.

But because we don't understand what we are actually up against, we are not doing nearly enough to prevent this — or something even worse — occurring; and if it were to happen here, we would be unable to cope.

The Mumbai atrocities show very clearly what too many obdurately deny — that a war is being waged against civilization.

It is both global and local. It is not 'our' fault; it has nothing to do with Muslim poverty, oppression or discrimination.

The Islamic fundamentalist fanatics use specific grievances — Kashmir, Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya — merely as recruiting sergeants for their worldwide holy war against all 'unbelievers'.

The Mumbai attackers targeted British, American and Indian citizens simply because they wanted to kill as many British, American and Indian 'unbelievers' as possible.

Where they found Muslims, they spared them.

They also singled out for slaughter the occupants of an outreach organization geared to Jews with no Israeli or political agenda — underscoring the point that at the core of the Islamists' hatred of Israel festers their hatred of the Jews.

This was not, as is so often described, 'mindless violence'.

On the contrary, the terrorists precisely calibrated both their choice of targets and the way in which they attacked them. This tells us many things.

India was chosen in order to further two aims. First was to foment greater tension between India and Pakistan.

No less important was the wish to destroy the ever more vital strategic alliance between India and the West in common defense against the Islamist onslaught.

 

That was why British and American visitors in those two grand hotels were singled out.

And that was why Mumbai itself was chosen — as the symbol of India's burgeoning commerce and prosperity and its links with the West.

The manner of these attacks also carried a message.

Many hostages were taken, but no attempt was made to use them to demand redress of any grievances. They were simply killed.

That made a statement that the terrorists' agenda is non-negotiable.

The attacks demonstrated, above all, the reach of the perpetrators and the impotence of their designated victims.

Those who believe that Islamist terror can be halted by addressing grievances around the world are profoundly mistaken.

With these atrocities, moreover, Islamist attacks have moved much closer to war than conventional terrorism.

The Iranian-born foreign affairs specialist Amir Taheri has pointed out that the Mumbai attacks embody the plan outlined by a senior Al Qaeda strategist after the U.S. decided to fight back following 9/11 — a decision that the Islamists had not expected.

This new strategy entails targeting countries with a substantial Muslim presence for 'low-intensity warfare' comprising bombings, kidnappings, the taking of hostages, the use of women and children as human shields, beheadings and other attacks that make normal life impossible.

Such a simultaneous, multi-faceted onslaught quickly reduces a city and a country to chaos. It can be repeated anywhere — and our cities must be among the most vulnerable.

Melanie Phillips

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Drama in Sderot: Qassam attack, first person.

 

Mihale Eliav is looking to buy a house in Sderot. On her most recent visit, she got a taste of the local attraction, supplied by the neighborly Hamas. See Sderot Impressions and Sderot Qassam capital

Sderot this evening. I was on my way to look at another house with my realtor. Just as it was getting dark, I experienced my first ‘red' and then, my first Qassam.

I didn’t hear the alarm, but Alex did. ‘GO, GO, RED!' he cried braking, and I tried to undo my seatbelt at the same time as open the door, fumbled for the release button, other hand fumbling for the door handle, found the door locked, reached over, got confused, out at last. 'Where?' I asked and he indicated a nearby shop (women's clothes). He hurried me along 'quickly, we've only got about 30 seconds!'. We ran, leaving the car in the middle of a roundabout, and darted into the open door. The shopkeeper was just coming out from behind the counter- Alex quickly asked 'roof ok?' and the answer was positive. He and we and several shoppers all moved into the back of the shop. Two of the shoppers continued to browse the racks. I stared at a nice knit dress, gray and black stripes, pretty but too short. No one talked.

The bang came some seconds later, sounding close and loud. We all waited a few minutes, just in case there was another one. There is no 'all clear' signal, I guess because how would they know?

I examined my feelings closely- after all, I'm planning to move to Sderot once I find a suitable house- and found that on the whole, this event was only slightly scary. I felt a whole lot worse though, when upon leaving the shop, we encountered one woman in a wheelchair and one with a walker, who were still on their slow way to shelter, but. No cigar.

Being able to take shelter is really, really important.

We retrieved the car. Alex called his 13 year old daughter, who was crying. 'Calm down' he told her, 'it was you that chose to come back. It's OK sweetie, it's OK, just calm down and I'll see you soon. I have to show my client a house, and then I'll come get you and we'll go home.' I asked him what he meant by 'you chose to come back' and he told me that he'd arranged for his family to live on a moshav [farm community] further east, but she and her little brother opted for staying in town and in their own school. I've met this girl. In some families, living under fire is a challenge to rise to. I could hear Alex's daughter Mazal fight back tears and say 'OK papa, I'm OKk now, you hear - I'm not crying. I'll wait for you here'. I offered to take her with, but Alex said 'she's fine now' and we carried on. Living in Sderot is good for the backbone, it seems.

And went to pick up a woman who wants to sell her house. Waiting for her on a street near the edge of town, I looked around and realized there were no shelters on this street. [Kids in the Gaza area practice taking shelter. Remember airaidrills in grade school?- nothing like that.] 'Alex, if the 'red' had sounded and we were already here, where would we go for shelter?' 'Choose the closest house with lights on and run like hell for the front door' he replied. 'And if there's no answer and the door is locked?' 'Then you lie down parallel to the base of the nearest east-facing wall' he told me, and pointed to the nearest suitable place. I'd already seen, from inspecting a Qassam crater, that the blast angles up at about 45 degrees. The base of an east-facing wall, especially if there's a whole house on the other side of the wall, probably is pretty good protection.

Only, of course, if you can get there fast enough. The radar picks up the launching. The up and down of the missile's flight takes about 40 seconds. 40 seconds isn't as short as all that; one can probably find shelter in that time if one stays cool-- provided one can run.

The ‘red’ was almost inaudible from where we were, partly the car window being up on my side, but I've heard that it's pretty effective from most places. Of course, local ears know what they're hearing too, which mine do not.

As any of you who've read about my first visits know, there are shelterettes all over Sderot, nicely painted a pale celadon and I'm sure everyone knows just exactly which one is closest, no matter what they're doing. There is even one very large shelter, shaped like a giant snake or slug, brightly striped and curving through a playground- every few meters is an opening, so the thing is a piece of play equipment as well as a place to go if the 'red' sounds. On Kibbutz Migvan, the kids are under instructions to play between the houses, rather than in the street, so if the 'red' sounds, they're only a few meters from the protected rooms of the houses on either side.

As quiet as the alarm was, the Qassam bang was exceeding loud and sounded quite near. Later I found out it fell on Elbaz street (where the first house I looked at is), quite a bit further away than I'd thought. Bombs are LOUD. I'd heard bombs before actually, scuds back in the Gulf War. Scuds are not just loud, they make whole neighborhoods shake. For a small bomb, Qassam is loud enough. No one could sleep through a Qassam hit, even in a protected room, even with earplugs. In fact I think if one fell within a few meters of a shelter, the people in the shelter would be fine, but they might also be deaf.

This is a disorderly subject. I keep trying to give the above paragraphs more form, but simply can't do it. I keep thinking that I know too much about bombs. The mere existence of such things makes me ashamed to be a human being. The thought that just a few kilometers from Sderot (Gaza) are people who have it a lot worse is - irrelevant. After all my visits there, this is the first time I experienced an attack. It hasn't changed my mind about moving. After all, the whole country is a target of various kinds of attack, more by drivers than by terrorists.

The main thought is something very vague and potentially even wrong: we just have to carry on. What else can we do? But I do wish that we'd grow up faster, figure out a better way faster.

This isn't a very good telling, I know. But I don't think I can do any better, especially after three solid days of beastliness from Mumbai. and I've let enough time pass since the incident to know that I'm not going to get any forwarder with my thoughts than this at the moment.

There's a house on Hagana street which looks great. I'll keep you posted.

Mihale Eliav

Copyright © by author – M. Eliav

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Iraqi Jews before the Fall. Part I.

Two narratives have been generated about the life of Jews in Arab lands. One claims that life was wonderful, the other claims that life was terrible. Saul Silas Fathi's account of his early life in Baghdad, related in his book, Full Circle, seems to bear out both versions. In fact the same could be said of the life of Jews in many places in the Diaspora. It was very good until it was very bad. Saul's father was director of the Iraqi railway system. His family lived well, but by the 1930s, the storm was gathering. Below is Fathi's account of the prelude to the Farhud (Farhoud or Farhood), the 1941 Iraqi pogrom of of the Jews.

Farhood: Krystallnacht in Baghdad, June 1, 1941

Part I: Prelude

The treatment of Jews in Iraq during the early part of the twentieth century had been relatively positive. The British under the 1917 mandate saw the value of having Jews work with them and later with the newly formed monarchy. They realized that the Jews, who were already holding prominent positions in government and commerce, understood the Iraqi culture and knew both English and the local dialects.

In Iraq, Zionism, or the encouragement of Jewish identity and culture, was permitted from World War I to the early 1930s. However, with the rise of pro- German and pro-Nazi sympathizers in Iraq, restrictions began to be leveled on Jews. In 1933, the Iraqi government forbade the teaching of Hebrew and restricted its use to the Holy Scriptures and in prayers. Extra permits and licensing fees were levied on Jews; and sometimes an extra bribe had to be made in order for Jews to ship or receive goods, without their merchandise sitting in a customs dock indefinitely. Many Jews also were fired from their government jobs.

By the mid 1930s, Nazi-inspired policies became more widespread. Arab boys in Baghdad were often sent to Germany to attend Hitler Youth events. Public high schools stopped teaching French, the language of diplomacy, and began to teach German. Junior high school boys were encouraged to join the Futtuwa, paramilitary programs based on the Hitler Youth groups. Finally, in 1938, no Jews were permitted to attend the public high schools, nor were Jews permitted to leave the country. The Jewish community restricted its own movements to known safe places: work, school, and the marketplace. Though the Balfour Declaration after World War I favored British support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, the British in Iraq could do nothing about the growing Arab support of Arab Palestinians and anti-Zionist hate. Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda found its way into Iraq and was actively distributed. German-backed anti-Jewish radio broadcasts filled the Iraqi airwaves, and short-wave radio receivers could pick up anti-Jewish broadcasts from Germany. Hajj Amin al Hussayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (1920-1937) under the British mandate, had fled to Iraq after authorizing terrorist attacks on the British and the Jews in Palestine, and was welcomed by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri Al Sa’id. In response, Hussayni and his old friend, Fawzi Kawakchi [Kaukji, Kawkji], spent a year agitating the Iraqi populace against the monarchy, the Regent Abd Al-Ilah, the British, and, of course, the Jews. They used Iraqi radio as their primary propaganda tool.

It was in 1938 that Iraq and the rest of the world heard the awful news of Krystallnacht in Germany. Called “Crystal Night” or the “Night of Broken Glass,” two-days of violence swept through a large Jewish community. German soldiers systematically marched from city block to city block, burning, looting, and killing. One hundred Jews were murdered. Thirty thousand were rounded up and moved to concentration camps. Seven thousand Jewish owned businesses were destroyed and two hundred synagogues were burned.

With growing pro-Nazism in Iraq and the rise of hatred of the Jews there, the Jewish community feared open violence would reach their people as well. When World War II began in late 1939, Iraq’s treaty with the British stipulated that Iraq would officially and politically side with the Allies. This served only to fan the flames of Arab nationalism that found sympathy with Nazism and anti-Jewish sentiment within the country.

In early April of 1941, Arab nationalism, anti-British revolt was brewing within Iraq. Pro-Nazi military officers, known as the Golden Square, launched a successful military coup and set up Rashid Ali el Gaylani, another Nazi sympathizer, as Prime Minister. The British sent the legal Regent and the Prime Minister, along with Jamil Al-Madfa’ii, Ali Jawdat Al-Ayubi, and Da’ud Pasha Al-Haydari, to Jerusalem.

Gaylani opened diplomatic relations with Germany and invited Dr. Fritz Grooba, the former German ambassador, to return to his post with a complement of aides and Nazi military personnel. Grooba encouraged attacks on British air bases in an effort to remove the military power behind the legal Iraqi government.

When forces from the coup attacked these bases on May 1, British planes bombed rebel positions the next day, crippling them and bringing a rapid defeat. Rebel forces attacked Meir Elias Hospital on the pretext of searching for British pilots who were supposed to be hiding there. They looted the hospital, set it on fire, and rounded up hospital physicians and administrators. The President of the Jewish Community, Sassoon Khedhouri, enlisted the aid of the Inspector General of Police, Husam Al-Din Jum’a, to release the hospital staff and restore order to the hospital.

By May 29, 1941, Al-Gaylani, Husseini, Fawakchi, and other rebel forces realized that their coup had failed. They fled to Iran and Turkey, and Husseini was welcomed in Germany. In the wake of the escape of the rebel leadership, Yunis Al-Sab’awi, the Minister of Economics, appointed himself as the Military Governor of Baghdad.

The next day, May 30, the Mayor of Baghdad Amin Al-Asima, Arshad Al- Umari, Husam Al-Din Jum’a, and other government officials signed an armistice with the British, declaring an end to the revolt. Though it looked as if all hostilities were ending, another, much darker horror was about to be unleashed on the Jews of Baghdad.

The same day that the armistice was signed, Al-Sab’awi called the President of the Jewish community and told him that all Jews were being restricted to their homes May 31 to June 2. Then, Al-Sab’awi instructed the Katayib Al-Shabab, a paramilitary youth group, to mark all of the Jewish houses and stores in red paint. Then, Al-Sab’awi sent a message to the radio station, urging the Arab public to massacre the Jews. Fortunately, the broadcast was prevented, and Al-Sab’awi was sent to the border.

Nevertheless, the Katayib Al-Shabab and others who had been incited by anti-Jewish propaganda carried out Al-Sab’awi’s plan. Farhood, Iraq’s own Krystallnacht, began in the evening of June 1, 1941. It was the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), a harvest festival held on the fiftieth day after the end of Passover. What would have been a celebratory holy day turned into a nightmare.

Hussayni fled to Berlin, where he met with Hitler himself, and continued to incite Arabs to persecute Jews, only returning to the Middle East after World War II. Later, during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, it was he who would call on the Palestinians to leave their homes and join the Arab forces “to re-conquer it back and finish the Jews.”

This marked the genesis of the Palestinian refugee saga.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Iraqi Jews before the Fall. Part II. Farhood: Krystallnacht in Baghdad, June 1, 1941.

Part II: Farhood

By the end of May 1941, my family was enjoying our evenings up on the roof since the heat of the summer months was upon us. My sisters and I usually played with dominoes. Since I was only three and Yedida was only four, we didn't understand the real rules of playing with the tiles, though Berta did, who was six. Instead, we laid them out in long lines and pretended we were building railroads like our father did. But for the last few nights, our sense of play was muted by worried looks between our parents. Father had also told us yesterday that we couldn't go out and play; we had to stay in our rooms. We had wanted to go with Mother to buy treats for Shavuot but couldn't. In fact, Mother had not left the house and neither had Father gone to work. We thought it was because of our holiday coming. We would all go to the synagogue, but we had not done that either. We had only eaten a light meal, and Father had offered prayers. So, on the evening of June 1st, I wondered why we had celebrated a holiday alone and why no one wanted to play with me. We were put to bed early but none of us could sleep. We watched the stars as usual, trying to make patterns from the shapes of their lights. It was then that Berta sat up in her bed and said, "Father, why is the sky orange down by the center of the city?"

Father and Mother immediately jumped out of their beds and stood near the edge of the roof, facing the downtown area of Baghdad. We all got up to stand with them and look. Normally, Father would have told us to get back to our beds, but he didn't tonight. His eyes were transfixed on the glow emanating from the city's central district where the Jewish and Muslim communities abutted each other. As we watched the glow crept toward us, spreading from block to block. On the night wind, we caught a faint wailing cry welling up from where we saw the orange light. Mixed with that wail were crashes and booms. Mother began to weep, and Father's jaw was clenched tight as he held onto Mother. As we watched the orange glow expand, we could see smoke against the growing light and an occasional lick of flame. The smell of burning wood was on the wind. Father gathered Berta, Yedida, and me, along with my baby brother Yeftah, who was already there whimpering, into our parent's big bed with him and Mother. We clung to each other as we watched the fires and destruction creep closer hour by hour into the long night.

"That must be Sooq Ha-rage and Sooq Le-sfa-feer," Father said, "the markets."

After awhile, we could hear screams and distinct curses. "They've come to Bab-el-shar-gee and Taht-el-takya," Father whispered. These were wealthy Jewish neighborhoods. Father held us tighter and began to pray softly. I was afraid, but I wasn't sure of what exactly. All I could see was that this orange glow was alive and growing and it brought pain. I squeezed closer to my father and my sisters. Around two o'clock, crashing and pounding stopped and all we could hear was the soft wail the seemed to come from everywhere now. After a little while, my parents' muscles seemed to relax and I fell asleep. I woke the next morning to screams and renewed crashing in the streets nearby. The destruction in the city was clearly visible now. We could see people struggling with men wielding knives. We saw Jews on faraway rooftops jumping from their roofs to their Arab neighbors' roofs. Their neighbors quickly ushered them inside where they could hide.

The British army, which had now taken control of Iraq by then, remained just outside of Baghdad and was totally disengaged allowing the atrocities against the Jews to continue unabated.

The wave of destruction continued until about mid-afternoon. It was then that the Kurdish division of the military, ordered by the Regent, moved into the city, sweeping the neighborhoods, rounding up those responsible for this pogrom. By about two o'clock, Kurdish troops were beginning to take up posts in front of prominent Jewish homes. One soldier was stationed in front of our own door.

Aftermath

By Sunday afternoon, there were 180 Jews dead, 240 children orphaned, and 2,120 wounded. Countless numbers of women and girls had been raped and kidnapped. Babies had been disemboweled before their parents' eyes. Rioters broke into marked Jewish-owned stores, especially those on Shorja Street, looting and destroying. Two thousand homes had been plundered and 2,375 shops had been looted. The property damage was estimated at £3 to £3.5 million. The Jews weren't permitted to bury their dead themselves. The dead were collected by the government, and eventually, all were buried in one mass grave. The Iraqi government severed all diplomatic ties with Germany. Al-Sab'awi was arrested and hanged on July 20,1941. But no apology was ever made to the Jews who had been terrorized. Neither was any restitution given for property loss or recompense for loss of life.

Hussayni fled to Berlin, where he met with Hitler himself, and continued to incite Arabs to persecute Jews, only returning to the Middle East after World War II. Later, during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, it was he who would call on the Palestinians to leave their homes and join the Arab forces "to re-conquer it back and finish the Jews."

This marked the genesis of the Palestinian refugee saga.

Saul Silas Fathi's

Copyright by Saul Fathi. All Rights Reserved.

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